Fall 2021 Courses
Female Creators Throughout History
In this class, we hope to explore many of the amazing female and female-identifying writers, poets, artists, and singers who have impacted how we see the world. Often, we only get to learn about European male creators in our classroom. But in reality, there are many female creators we can appreciate and learn from that have been glossed over in the history books. Each class, we will learn about the life and discuss the art of a different woman or group of women who made great contributions to her field or had a significant impact on an aspect of society. We will be studying women from all time periods and walks of life, from Sappho to Simone de Beauvoir. Furthermore, we will be focusing on female contributions during periods of intellectual vitality, such as the Italian Renaissance, and female revolutionaries, such as Ida B. Wells and Juana Azurduy de Padilla. This class is for anyone who is interested in learning more about and celebrating amazing female and female-identifying creators. We encourage students of all genders to take this course!
Taught by Advaita Chandramohan and Jenny Lee
Remembering a Pandemic
After 16 months of an unrelenting plague, racial reckoning, and post-apocalyptic election cycle, the United States is slowly returning to a sense of “normalcy.” As we enter this transition state, many ethical questions come into play regarding the legacy and stories of our communities. How can we possibly remember and memorialize the millions of people who have died due during the pandemic? Similar to how pandemic efforts neglected communities of color and the impoverished, will our memories of the pandemic also neglect these marginalized groups? And what is our personal responsibility in this process of crafting narratives so that our experiences and collective trauma of the pandemic are not forgotten? In this course, we will use the lens of cognitive neuroscience to explore the nature of personal and collective memories. We will investigate pandemics throughout history, focusing on how narratives through film, musicals, and architecture have memorialized these pandemics. Lastly, we will look to the art that has already been crafted during the COVID-19 pandemic and hopefully, write our own narratives so that we too can memorialize and process our experiences during this difficult time.
Taught by Ammar Dharani
The American Illusion
The United States of America is believed by many to be the greatest country in the world. After all, don’t our democratic ideals provide the coveted “American Dream”? Stories of rags to riches and glory fill our school textbooks, but what skeletons is ole Uncle Sam hiding in the closet? In this course we will be unpacking the lesser-known events in US history, from the War on Drugs to the Iran-Contra scandal, to understand the very un-American decisions of the US government. And more crucially, how these scandals manage to stay quiet for so long. As it turns out, the American Dream might prove to be the American Illusion. Still, history is far more than heroes and villains. We will discuss the underlying motivations fueling these scandals to grasp the harsh reality of US politics, but keeping humanity at the center of our conversations. If you enjoy stories and politics - or just want to know more about US history - you’ll be great for this course!
Taught by Emily Johnson
Neurotechnology with Everyone
Technologies to read and write the human brain transitioned beyond the research lab and into our homes. Yet are we prepared to have this intimate window into our minds? In this course, participating students will gain a practical understanding of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) through weekly hands-on workshops about technical, ethical, and aesthetic aspects of their design. Following an introduction to problem identification and research ethics, we’ll dive right into hardware design, user testing, and the creation of brain-responsive applications using the Brains@Play software library! There are no prerequisites for this course—and we particularly encourage students without coding experience to participate. What will you create?
Taught by Garrett Flynn
Living Fulfilled: An Introduction to Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul
In this course, the students will learn about the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a healthy life. The objective of the course is to give students a wide range of topics to consider when discovering how they want to live their life. The course will focus on diet, nutrition, meditation & yoga, community service, and stress management. The goal for the topics is for them to be geared toward one’s well-being and wholly living. I am personally very excited about teaching this subject. While I am still working on my own healthy living, I believe that we have our own unique ways of fulfilling a healthy mind, body, and soul. My goal for students is for them to identify what makes them fulfilled and live that way. The course will discuss different aspects of ethics in clean living as well as using practices created by other cultures. I plan to create my lessons focusing on one aspect of healthy living a week. The course will include hands-on activities (i.e, practicing yoga or journaling) and an open discussion format.
Taught by Kaisa Liljenwall
Building the Base: Exploring the Fundamentals of Economics and Personal Finance
Would it be acceptable to legalize kidney transplant markets if it saved human lives? What are the best strategies for long-term investing? Why is water so cheap while diamonds are so expensive when water is vital and diamonds are not? From these vastly different questions, we find that economics and finance are in every corner of our lives, whether we know it or not. In this class, we will take a brief walk through the history of economics and learn about the different frameworks through which economists value finite goods/services and how these valuations connect back to more modern-day policies such as minimum wage, rent control, and what economic progress really means on a global scale.
Building from our discussions on these topics, we will then take a deep dive into introductory personal finance and explore concepts ranging from budgeting and credit to taxes, interest rates, loans, and sustainable investing practices, tangibly applying our economic analyses for society's well-being as well as our own. Questions we will discuss include: When budgeting, how can we keep our local communities in mind? What are the ramifications of investing in oil companies versus clean energy? Should I try my hand at active investing or passively invest? If you are curious about any of these topics, join us as we challenge our critical thinking skills and explore the world through the lens of economics and finance.
No previous background or experience is needed to fully enjoy this course — we'll work through all of these topics together from start to finish, ensuring everyone has all the tools necessary to take their first steps towards critically analyzing economic policy and building the base for their own financial well-being!
Taught by Mihir Kumar and Khounish Sharma
Do you love to watch animated films and cartoons? Are you the type of person to watch the behind-the-scenes clips after every movie to see how films from Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks are made? Have you ever dreamed of creating your own cartoon whether it's traditional, stop motion, or in 3D? Then this course is for you! We’ll be studying the history of animation, various styles, techniques, tools, and genres of animation, the different careers in animation, as well as current issues plaguing the entertainment industry as you’ll delve into creating your own animated short by the end of the course. No previous experience is necessary, just bring your story ideas, passion, and love for everything animated!
Taught by Maria "Lupita" Loa
Prophets of Conspiracy
Certain news headlines today definitely cause lots of us to do double takes— from claims by House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene that Jewish Space Lasers are causing wildfires to assertions by far-right conspiracy theorist group QAnon that the government is run by a Satan worshipping group of child traffickers. Although these ideas might sound like they come out of a dystopian novel, they often end up gaining enough momentum to infiltrate mass media and political parties. When popular figures within the political and social sphere validate these ideas in a landscape of echo chambers, discrediting them becomes much more complicated. In this class, we are going to explore how these figures or “prophets” of extreme political conspiracy theories act as symbols for some of the more radical and hot button issues floating around. Was Twitter’s censorship of Donald Trump ethical? How did Andrew Wakefield spread lies about vaccines with made-up data? Where do all of the conspiracy theories about billionaire investor George Soros come from? By exploring both liberal and conservative media, online chatrooms/Youtube videos, and well-backed research articles, this course will help you become detectives of truth and politics. The only requirement for this class is a willingness and curiosity to dive into extremes and engage with politics and media in new and radical ways.
Taught by Nishan Sohoni and Dahlia Earleywine
A Deep Dive into Tropes and Clichés
From BookTokers raving about their favorite enemies-to-lovers romance novels to Redditors pointing out all the cheesy and predictable moments in the latest action movies, tropes and clichés play an essential role in the discourse surrounding popular media. While you may have heard these words thrown around in conversations talking about how unoriginal and boring a book or movie is, there’s more to tropes and clichés than just overused storylines and stale dialogues. In this course, we’ll explore tropes and clichés from sociological, psychological, and artistic perspectives. We’ll question whether there are any truly “original '' stories, discuss the meanings of tropes and clichés, and theorize what today’s most popular tropes and clichés say about our generation’s values and morals. And, of course, we’ll watch plenty of movie clips and read excerpts from well-known novels along the way!
Taught by Riya Valaulikar
Comedy and Politics
The world is a complicated place; let’s learn about it through laughter. 2020 has shown us the many rifts within our society, but instead of learning through the boring route of traditional lecture, let us learn about social/political issues through the lens of comedy. The very core of our class will be about how comedians present political issues to their audience and how comedy in various forms of media (i.e. tv shows, memes, etc) has stimulated thought in our own lives. We will discuss as a class how comedy has impacted us and the political world. Politics today is increasingly polarized and frustrating but comedy allows us to think about issues in entirely different ways. Some shows we will be discussing include Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, as well as other stand up comedians. Some of these comedians include Ali Wong, Hasan Minhaj, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jim Gaffigan. We will be exposing students to new ways of thinking about politics which will inevitably produce contested discussions. By the end of this class we can all learn to take a joke and make a joke when it comes to politics.
Taught by Zachary Gee and Kendrew Zarzuela